The compass commentary posted below appeared in a Mat-Su valley publication. It's a rebuttal to our editorial against Mat-Su Prop. 1, the so-called Property Rights initiative.
The piece contends that we refused to run this response. I don't recall ever seeing it. Maybe it got caught in our spam filter, which I routinely flush without checking each item.
Nonetheless, we would not have run the piece because it is well past our word limit and frankly, wasn't well written. (Bonus points to anyone not involved on either side of the debate who reads to the end of it.)
We did run a piece by Aaron Downing that addressed the Vote Yes side of the Prop. 1 issue in a more polished and potentially persuasive way. I'll post it below the one we didn't run.
-- Matt Zencey, editorial page editor
Compass Submission the Daily News refuses to publish:
Rebuttal is in response to this slanderous Editorial from Sept 7th 2007 re: Prop 1
By Dennis Oakland, Co-founder
Mat-Su Taxpayers Association
ADN Editorial Friday September 7, 2007 was probably the most inaccurate, deceptive and politically motivated I have ever seen. Beginning with the very first sentence: ADN claims Mat-Su's Proposition 1 is somehow "anti-government". What a ridiculous and arrogant statement. Prop 1 in not about being anti-government, it is about reasonable government restraint.
Proposition 1 states that if government passes a regulation that devalues property, that the owners must be compensated. Yeah, so? What is wrong with that? The Editorial goes on to say that government will be faced with lawsuits and payoffs to developers, (as though being a developer is now a dirty word). There are no regulations currently in the Borough Code that a claim or a lawsuit could be filed upon if Prop 1 passes, so that claim is patently false.
The editorial goes on to say that Prop 1 will prevent the Borough and cities from enforcing rules that protect the public interest. This is a blatantly false statement, as Prop 1 has several provisions where public safety and nuisances are exempted.
Then they added a ridiculous quote from Borough Manager John Duffy who states that a cement company could come to a residential neighborhood.. Isn't that currently illegal Mr. Duffy? All current Borough and City ordinances are NOT effected by Prop 1.
The Editorial then exposes the ADN's Editorial staff's inability to verify facts. They claim that the supporters have received $3250 in contributions and had spent less than $200, seemingly to imply we just intend to hoard the money. Then they go on to say the opponents did not report any contributions. That is perhaps the worse example of journalistic irresponsibility I have ever seen. The day before this Editorial appeared, APOC reported that Mat-Su Taxpayers Against Prop 1 had received nearly $20,000 in contributions including $12,000 from a wealthy Seattle area environmentalist. 90% of opponents reported contributions came from OUTSIDE the Mat-Su and 3/4ths came from OUT of State. Every cent of our contributions have come from right here in the Mat-Su Valley. (Source APOC)
The opponents of Prop 1 have, by the way, managed to squander much of their nearly $20,000 in reported donations on overhead and other costs. (Source APOC) The opponents of Prop 1 also paid over $5000 to a Seattle consultant who specializes in defeating Ballot Initiatives. It's obvious that the ADN Editorial staff made no attempt whatsoever to contact APOC to verify whether the opponents had even filed APOC reports that were required by 3rd of Sept. They were posted on the APOC website by Thursday noon, in plenty of time for the Editorial staff to verify these "facts" before going to press.
The Editorial also claims Prop 1 is poorly written. That is nothing more than a boilerplate red-herring statement that opponents of legislation and initiatives use to get you to vote against something, even though you might agree with the concept. Almost every bill or ordinance begins with the words: MSB Code xx.xx.xxx shall be amended to, etc..
They then go on to compare Prop 1 to Oregons Measure 37 and claim it will have the same disastrous results. Ridiculous. Even though much of Prop 1 was modeled from Measure 37, it is not like Measure 37, as Prop 1 is NOT retroactive like Measure 37. Measure 37 effected all current land use regulations in the State of Oregon, resulting in huge numbers of claims and waivers, which by the way, not one penny has been paid out.
Proposition 1 is pro-active, and effects only regulations which have not even been written yet.
There is one point we are willing to concede, and that is the definition of the word "new" when applied to regulations affected by Prop 1. In light of that concern, we, the sponsors of Prop 1, have approached some members of the Mat-Su Borough Assembly and have asked for the sponsoring of an amendment that would change the word "new" to a date certain. This move is legal under State Statute and the Borough Attorney agrees with that statement.
As a Mat-Su voter, you have to ask yourself this: If a wealthy Seattle environmentalist, The Nature Conservancy (Washington State and Alaska), Alaska Center for the Environment, Alaska Conservation Alliance, Cook Inlet Keeper, ADN Editorial Staff, The Mat-Su Borough, The City of Palmer are all against Proposition 1, you can feel reassured that passing Proposition 1 is the right thing to do.
Proposition 1 is a means of keeping government within it's scope of responsibility, and at the same time preventing the Oregon disaster model, and the Borough and Cities would still be able to pass all the land use regulations they want if they do not devalue private property.
If this is not enough for them, you must ask yourself just exactly what kind of regulation do they have planned for the future?
Are they intentionally planning to de-value your property by regulation? If not, wouldn't they be supporting Proposition 1?
Here is the pro-Prop. 1 piece we did run:
COMPASS: Points of view from the community
By AARON DOWNING
Run Date 9/14/2007
Special interests are attempting to mislead us as to the true value of Proposition 1 (Private Property Protection Act), which appears on the Mat-Su Borough ballot next month. They say it is a proposition we cannot afford. They lie.
Their big lie is that it will cost the taxpayer an enormous amount of money. To drive this idea home, they say that in Oregon (which has a similar regulation to Proposition 1) $17 billion in claims have been filed against the state and counties. The implication is that this is money the government will have to pay through additional taxation.
Absolutely not true! Here's why.
I know firsthand about this, since I have filed a property claim in Oregon. My claim was for loss of value of our family property due to the county and state's imposition of onerous land-use regulations. The county and state had the option of either paying us for our loss due to their regulations or waiving the regulations. Both the county and state chose to waive the regulations, allowing us to use our property as we choose.
Imagine that! We now get to use our own property as we see fit and not as government sees fit.
It was Oregon's law enacted by Measure 37 that did this. (Mat-Su Proposition 1 is nearly a mirror image of Measure 37, although Prop 1 only applies to NEW, not existing, regulations.)
The point is that my claim of loss cost the Oregon governments nothing. They didn't have to pay us a dime. My claim was simply for loss of value of our property due to government-imposed regulations. When they removed the regulation from our property our claim went away. No money changed hands but we got our value back.
My claim was for a very small portion of the total $17 billion in claims by Oregon property owners. The claims total has now escalated from $17 billion to $21 billion and is still rising. Keep in mind this $21 billion is the total of all individual property value loss claims for the whole state. The only claims that have to be paid are where Oregon wants to still impose regulations that reduce the individual property owner's values.
It is not a total bill to be paid, as our local special interests would have you believe. Rather, it is a real summation of how much money unreasonable government regulations can personally cost all the state's individual property owners. This $21 billion is a huge amount of money to give up to the whims of bureaucracy, even for a state as large as Oregon.
Proposition 1 (Private Property Protection Act) will help us maintain our true property values and deter the Mat-Su Borough politicians from enacting future onerous land-use regulations. Without Proposition 1, they will be free to write any restrictive land-use regulations they please without considering the consequences to all of us.
Proposition 1 has other very favorable features. One is that it freezes all existing regulations. Those regulations now on the books stay on the books. No one can claim for a loss using any past regulation as a basis. What you now have, you can keep.
No one can come in and build a race track in your subdivision, or a sex store, or install a coal bed methane pump after the proposition passes any more than they can do these things today. Proposition 1 simply forces the Borough Assembly to carefully consider the economic consequences of future property regulation actions. Proposition 1 is the economic reins we, the people, hold in our hands to force the politicians to maintain our property at its full value.
Don't let special interests and the politicians mess with the value of your property. I beg you to vote for Proposition 1. It is your private property that is at stake. It is truly the Private Property Protection Act and it protects all Democrats, all Republicans and all Americans.
Aaron Downing lives in Palmer.